Tuesday, July 28, 2015

BSA ends organizational ban on gay adult leaders; media reports on Lousiana shooter's homophobia

The Boy Scouts of America has voted to end its organization ban on openly gay scout leaders. But the New York Times, in a story by Erik Eckholm emphasizes the objections of the Mormon Church, link here.
Local chapters would still be “free” to implement their own “rules”, but the trend obviously is that it would be difficult to defend deliberate discrimination in practice, even at the local level.
Still, socially conservative religious groups are finding cherished idea of “community morality”, that people who don’t conform to (or compete well within) biological gender roles, should be forced to conform for the good of the group (a rather military idea), harder to defend.  Younger adults tend not to believe it.  It seems related to economic standard of living.  Such a view of morality is more common with smaller, tribal communities that had constantly to defend themselves from common enemies (as in the times of both the Bible and later the Koran).
Not much has been said about how transgender people (female to male especially) might fit in, but, as with the military, that will surely come up and gain more acceptance over time.
Media have reported the public homophobia of John Houser, who killed two women in a shooting rampage at a movie theater in Lafayette, LA last Thursday.  One report here on some of his posts and supposed support of the Westboro Baptist Church is here.  His anger seems to have been directed partly at, not just at his economic circumstances, but at women who don’t submit to men.  That’s pretty familiar with some religious fundamentalism.  But there are other reports of severe breakdowns in church gatherings that he had attended.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Baltimore Pride Festival returns to Druid Hill Park

The Baltimore Pride Festival for 2015 was held in Druid Hill Park, returning to the location after using the MICA area in 2014. 
This year I saw some interesting organization with exhibits, like the Baltimore Police Department, Alzheimer’s Society, and the Baltimore Republican Party.
There were performances by TS Madison (which seemed to be going on when I visited) and Steve Grand.

There was a second stage facing the lake. 

The best food pavilion was a seafood stand, which offered, besides Maryland crab, some “non-free fish” and even alligator. 
There were plenty of dogs, including one who recognized me a second time around, 

and another who went from foot to foot in the China pavillion making herself the center of attention. 


Sunday, July 26, 2015

Baltimore Pride, 2015, follows peacefully on troubles in the city in April

On Saturday, July 25, 2015, Baltimore Pride offered its parade and Block Party.

The relatively brief parade started at 3:30 PM and went up Cathedral Street and Maryland Ave., one block west of Charles Street.

The Block Party was in two sections, part of it on Eager Street as in the past, and another large section in a block off Cathedral Street, with a performance and dance state and food in each part.  The lines were not as long for food because there were more vendors.

The Hippo started its dance part at about 8:20 PM (a little late), with male dancers, and by 9 PM or so the dance floor was filling in.  The DJ offered some unusual brass and horn music on top of the dance at times, which sounded like atonal classical dance music.

No one knew yet exactly when the Hippo will close (to be replaced by an art-decco CVS), but most observers expect it to be open through Halloween.  The Hippo plans a major “White Party” on Aug. 8.  A major issue seems to be that the owner can't simply sell the club with license to another person as is;  he had been grandfathered in.  

The area will need a large dance floor after the Hippo becomes a CWS.  Maybe the Grand Central could enlarge its third floor. 

The people attending the events were more numerously female and non-white than at similar events in DC.  There was a tone of remembering the events in Baltimore in April.

The Horseshoe Casino offered a free after party.

The newspaper Baltimore GL (July 2015, p. 5) reports that PW, a small but popular bar in Laurel MD, has lost its liquor license. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Retiring French HIV researcher warns young gay men on HIV

The woman who discovered HTLV-III aka HIV in 1984 in France, that is, Francoise Barre Sinoussi, warns that there will probably never be a “cure” for HIV even though modern protease inhibitors are managing it well for many patients.  The CNN story (in “Vital Signs”) is here.   However, the tone of an IAS 2015 (Vancouver) paper seems a little more optimistic, here
The researcher expressed concern that younger gay men might fall into a pattern that repeats what happened in the 1980s.  I was living in Dallas then, and in 1985-1986 saw a large portion of well-known popular men (including a head of the Oak Lawn Counseling Center) develop full blown AIDS and often pass away within a year.  One minor league relief pitcher, perhaps with the talent to make it in MLB, told me that he had tested positive one morning at breakfast at a popular spot, but he had not developed symptoms.
Generally, after I returned to the DC area in mid 1988, I noticed that the occurrence of full-blown AIDS among people I knew became much less frequent in the 1990s.  Medications did start to work.  Today, among younger men (locally and around the country) whom I know, I do not hear about this happening.  I think behavior is much more restrained than it was in the late 1970s, despite what one might see on the dance floor or sung about in videos. 
Pictures:  Visit to Philadelphia, July 5, to visit LGBT exhibit at Constitution Center 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

HRC promotes Equality Act, while tyrants around the world use western same-sex marriage as a proxy issue

Graeme Reid has a disturbing op-ed on CNN of how authoritarian leaders around the world use same-sex marriage in the West, and especially the recent SCOTUS opinion, as a proxy issue to make the West or the US seem like enemies, link here.
The worst countries are Russia (of course), Nigeria (with Goodluck Jonathan’s behavior before ouster from office), Malaysia (abuse of its sodomy law against political opponents), and Gambia, as well as Uganda previously.

Non-western cultures are more likely to see homosexuality as denying parents or families a lineage. But these cultures also view society much more collectively. 


Today HRC was calling supporters about the bill for the Equality Act, as explained in the blog posting here. It was introduced by Senators Jeff Merkley, Tammy Baldwin, Cory Booker, and representative Dave Cicilline.  Vox has an article by German Lopez calling it "the most comprehensive LGBTQ rights bill ever" link here The Williams Institute at UCLA has an analysis of the benefits of the bill here

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Straight dad talks obliquely about marriage equality, hypothetical gay son in popular fatherhood blog

A CNN story about weight gain in recent fathers (Issues blog today) refers to a blog by John Kinnear. It’s called “Ask Your Dad”.  I suppose if mommy blogs have created a profitable niche (like Heather Armstrong’s “Dooce”) so can daddyhood.
What I found was “Not another political post on the SCOTUS decision on marriage equality,” link here  He links to his own post about a hypothetical gay son – warning about safer sex, for one thing. 
This post concerns a narrative about an early boyhood friend who turned out to be gay.  And he notes that the world has not changed all that much because of marriage equality.  He mentions growing up among Mormon neighbors.  But, as author Gordon Merrick had noted, “The Lord Won’t Mind”.
I can recall a bizarre outdoor conversation with a neighbor’s boy back in  August, 1950, after I had recovered from the measles.  He had grown a little taller than me while I was sick.  He said something about the idea that sometimes boys marry boys. 
First picture: Pulse disco in Orlando FL, recent trip. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Catholic school teacher in PA after now legal same-sex marriage, stirring controversy

A private Catholic school’s director of religious education, Margie Winters, was fired after the school learned of her legal same-sex wedding and apparently someone complained.  The school was Waldron Mercy Academy in Merion, PA near Philadelphia. Chris Brennan and Kathy Boccella have a Philadelphia Inquirer story here.  Some parents have threatened to withdraw over the firing!
Winters appeared on Smerconish on CNN Saturday morning.
The Catholic League has its own take on these firings, treating this as a kind of “conflict of interest” here.  You cannot teach for a private organization and represent its views and then behave in a manner that contradicts these views.
I experienced my own version of this “conflict of interest” with respect to the military ban issue in the 1990s, explained here (Feb. 4, 2014) on my Wordpress “do ask do tell notes” blog. 

Smercomish mentioned this morning that the EEOC may be moving toward a defacto protection of gays and lesbians in the private workplace.  This is what EEOC says now.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Nigeria (and other developing countries) really are terrified of gay marriage in the West

Here’s a curious story on CNN by Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, “Why are Nigerians so terrified of same-sex marriage in America?”, link here

The story, by a Nigerian who traveled to Massachusetts to attend a friend’s gay marriage, indicates that Nigerians back home are terrified of the idea that gay marriage has become accepted in western countries.

Part of the issue has to do with the vestiges of colonialism.  Recently British Prime Minister David Cameron warned African heads of state that Britain might withhold foreign aid if they continued anti-gay policies at home.

While President Obama is getting a lot of attention for his “deal” on Iran and while Europeans fret ver Greece, another even is Obama’s meeting with new Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari, who replaces Goodluck Jonathan, who had signed Nigeria’s anti-gay law in 2013 before losing control of the northereastern part of his country to Boko Haram terrorists.  Obama is expected to pressure Buhari to do something about the law.

In less developed countries people tend to see homosexuality as a threat to lineage, much as is the case in Russia.  And that is all some families think they have to hang on to.

Homosexuality is becoming a proxy for divide between the West and authoritarian countries, just as it had been a proxy issue for controversies over “individualism” when I was growing up. This is certainly an issue for gay employees of companies that need associates to travel and even work temporarily in these countries.  


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Real progress on lifting military transgender ban; also BSA ban on LGBT scout leaders; road club visit

Monday, news media reported that the US Armed forces are drawing up a plan to admit transgender military personnel or allow TG to remain in the service after change. AP story by Lolita Baldor is here     ABC has an interesting story about female-to-male soldier Shane Ortega here

And the Boy Scouts of America will reconsider completely removing the ban on adult gay scout leaders. The BBC story is here.   But Vox reports that Scott Walker (R-WI governor and presidential candidate) claims that the ban "protects children" (from what, "deciding" to live as gay adults and not have children? -- sounds like Vladimir Putin).  

Saturday night, I did visit the Pulse Disco in Orlando.  There was definitely a Latino night feel.  I don’t know if this is normal on Saturdays. There are two main (both small) dance floors or rooms, with male dancers in the smaller of the two.

The bar was about two miles south of the center of downtown (which fooled me);  on Orange St and Main there was a street festival, with break dancers, and many streets closed.  It seemed to be a “barfest”.  I went into a place called the Sidekick.  

Thursday, July 09, 2015

India allows extortion of gays, comparable to Russia

Much as in Russia, gay men in India are afraid to go to police when they are attacked or robbed after encounters. But, while Russia ironically has no sodomy law (“just” a propaganda law), in India the unwillingness of the Supreme Court to overturn India’s British-colonial sodomy laws adds fuel to the problem.  The Wall Street Journal has a story here on p. A6 Thursday July 9.  Britain overturned its own sodomy law in 1967, fifteen years after Alan Turing.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Oregon "teacher of the year" fired apparently for public activism

German Lopez of Vox Media is reporting that a “teacher of the year” in Multnomal, Oregon was fired after he complained about anti-gay harassment.  Oregon is a state that protects public employees from sexual orientation discrimination, Idaho does not.  German Lopez has the story on Vox here.
The school district says that he spent time out of class on activism, and was perhaos losing disciplinary control of some students and behaving in an insubordinate manner himself.  But he may very well win his legal case.  Of course, a major issue is a public employee's free speech, and "distribution". 

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Visit to the LGBT History Exhibit at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia

Today, I visited the LGBT History Exhibit at the National Constitution Center on Arch and 6th Streets in Philadelphia.  A parking lot, though expensive, was available on block to the west on Arch. 

The was part of the 50th anniversary (to organizing in 1965) LGBT history celebration.  I walked the gayborhood and to Washington Square but seemed to miss the end of the festival. 
The formal title was “Speaking Out for Equality: The Constitution, Gay Rights and the Supreme Court.
The internals of the exhibit did not allow photography. The biggest emphasis was on the very early days, in the 1950s and 1960s, when flagrant discrimination was rampant.  The Supreme Court history includes Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), Lawrence v. Texas (2003), DOMA, and Obergefell v. Hodges.
There was a letter from the State Department in 1960 to Frank Kameny, which restated the government’s circular reasons for firing homosexuals at the time. 
There was also a replaying of Mike Wallace’s horrific 1967 hour long documentary “The Homosexuals”.  

Friday, July 03, 2015

GOP behavior shows partisan polarization on gay and other issues

Jack Hunter of Politico (usually free in print at Starbucks) has a piece (“Republicans are too angry about gay marriage”) today about partisanship and gay equality – especially marriage equality, but in the past the same polarization has happened with the military issue, HIV issues, and even sodomy laws.  The link is here.  The most hyperbolic is Santorum’s claim that stopping gay marriage was “about the survival of the country” which sounds more true of Russia (with its low birth rate).  Remember Santorum’s 2004 attempted constitutional amendment, when Diane Feinstein was trying to get him to look at and spend real time on an anti-terrorism bill? 

OK, yes, I know the Log Cabin Republicans.  Gradually they are making a real difference. (Not quite "we".)  It's always been interesting how conservative "fiscally" a lot of more "successful" LGBT professionals are, and always have been.  That points toward libertarianism.
Yes, partisanship is often about fear, and about fitting independent wavering people into a social, loyalty and political structure created by others.  It’s something that authoritarian leaders (like Vladimir Putin) master all too well

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Homophobia still thrives in some quarters

It’s still legal in some states for retail establishments to bar homosexuals from the premises (although how they can “tell” would be interesting), according to a Vox story by German Lopez here.  The story concerns “Amyx Hardware & Roofing Supplies” in Grainger County, TN (NE, between the Smokies and Cumberlands), belonging to a Baptist minister.
Slate has a good article by Zach Howe.  “Homophobia is a real fear, but of what, exactly?” here. Many men, especially in less educated cultures, grow up in an environment where “zero tolerance” of sexual or gender deviation becomes an important piece of their identity and ability to perform with women.  It’s a bad system.